Friday, October 14, 2016

The Rape of Serenity

I am standing at the window watching Serenity leave. Her head is bowed and uncovered. Rivulets of rainwater run down her face like mini waterfalls and drip from the tip of her nose. Strands of dark hair plaster her cheeks and I note her lips are trembling from the wet and cold.

She's obviously not dressed for the weather, but she was raped last night and warmth wasn't the prime concern when her grandmother brought her in.

The rape occurred on the railroad tracks at 3 a.m., the devil's hour when shadows come alive and gremlins cast off their cumbersome angelic disguises so as not to hinder their depraved objectives. Serenity is only 16, but hell has visited her before and this isn't the first time in her life that she's been attacked or molested. 

She therefore knows the deal when it comes to the powers that be, the powers that are ostensibly there to protect and serve, and did not want to come in as a result. But her grandmother insisted. 

I can understand Serenity's resistance. 

A rape victim submitting to a rape kit is like a physical assault victim submitting to a baseball bat to the other, non-battered side of her head in order to establish plausibility. Even then  – even when they've broken bones and the bloody glove does fit everyone is suspicious of the veracity of a good rape "story" so why bother?

No one wants a guilty man found criminally responsible for something other men secretly want to do as well (if violent internet porn has taught us anything it's that). But no matter – the same animal that rapes, beats, kills and tortures also happens to be the same one who controls the levers of power, be it police, physician, politician, academician, propagandist, businessman, billionaire, priest or Father. How handy.

It's handy for the predatory male, anyway. 

Not so "handy" for aboriginal girls raped on railroad tracks. Perhaps this is what Serenity thinks on some subconscious level as Dr. Botha confidently strides into the examining room. He is a white male South African doctor, handsome, 45, lives with his perfectly symmetrical, much younger, pretty little wife on the right side of the tracks where Serenity was raped. 

He pulls back the grey privacy curtains without regard for Serenity's privacy. Cathy, who is sitting in the waiting room, catches a glimpse of the sopping wet girl, recognizes her and immediately starts texting. Confidentiality? No. This is a game with easy to break rules if you have the upper hand. Don't ever forget that.

Dr. Botha is one of the ones with the upper hand and he never forgets that. He approaches Serenity without making eye contact, and instead looks down at the clipboard he carries in his freshly scrubbed hands. He informs her with the carefully controlled contempt he's been honing his whole life, further sharpened into a kind of condescendingly pseudo-benevolent prejudice since immigrating to the Canadian North, that he will have to do a rape kit. 

Serenity, who at the tender age of 16 has already been so sexually, physically and psychologically traumatized throughout her life that she can't rely on her own repressed memories, doesn't think she knows what a rape kit is, even though she's been subjected to one before. Dr. Botha thus gives her a detached, yet stern, clinical summary of what a rape kit entails. It's as if he is mildly irritated with such formalities, such nonsense.

When he is done with his explanation, he finally looks Serenity in the eye so that he can make it perfectly clear that if she wants his assistance she will have to cooperate with the rape kit, which to Serenity's ears sounds just as bad as the rape she endured. 

Dr. Botha doesn't add that he's a busy, important man who doesn't have time for hysterical girls who are stupid enough to go outside unchaperoned in the middle of the night.

There should be a curfew for these Indians, he thinks with disdain.

By now Serenity is sitting up on the examining table, legs dangling over the edge like the lifeless extremities of a hand-stitched cloth doll. With mascara smudged around her eyes and blood matting the back of her head where she was slammed into the tracks, she eyes the doctor through the thick curtain of her damp, black hair and says, "Fuck you". 

It is a surprisingly articulate and calm "fuck you" and grabs Willem's  – Dr. Both's  –attention. He looks at her now as if she's a new person of interest who's only just entered the room. He experiences a brief jolt of adrenaline despite his otherwise meticulous self-control.

He would not admit it to anyone, but he does enjoy the sport of a feisty squaw.

He, however, is not accustomed to being spoken to with such irreverence by a Native of any kind and he'll have to put her in her place. Still, it's surprising – they usually don't speak at all in Willem's experience. If it's absolutely necessary that they do respond, it's normally in hard to hear, grammatically incoherent mumbles.

"I'm sorry, Miss (he doesn't remember her name), I'm here to assist you, but I WILL NOT tolerant abuse from you. If you want my help you'll have to address me with the respect I'm due". 

Willem does not break his intimidating stare before adding, "I'll give you a moment to think about it". 

As he turns to leave, Serenity's limp leg suddenly comes to life and she kicks at Willem, just missing his calf. She tells him if he comes near her she'll scream.

She wants to go home.

Willem is indignant and leaves to tell the police on her, who are waiting in the waiting room along with "Good Samaritan" Cathy with her sourpuss face and smug, vindictive fingers. Here's to hoping karma does its job and arthritis sets in early.

The "good" doctor then returns to Serenity with the same two RCMP officers with penises who had taken her initial statement. This fine duo of public service attempts to set Serenity straight, none of these adults evidently cognizant that they are dealing with an abused child who has just been brutally assaulted. 

Serenity is understandably distraught when confronted with all this menacing penile "help" and again spews "abusive" expletives.

How do these men, responsible for a minor's care and well-being, deal with Serenity's perfectly justifiable acting out? They wash their hands of her. 

Dr. Both, most likely never abused in his entire privileged life, literally tells a teenage girl who has just been abused beyond imagination that he will not be abused by her. Unless she stops abusing him, he says he cannot treat her and leaves Serenity alone with the RCMP officers. 

The officers offer to drive her home. She tells them, risking arrest by the way, to fuck off too, the way she did the "good" doctor.

Fortunately they do not arrest her, but they don't do anything else, either.

Serenity is "free" now to walk home in the rain with her grandmother. She wants to say "I told you so" but why bother? 

Around and around we go.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Body Shame versus The Slut Shame

"I told you these breast-implanted women were a fucking nuisance to more than just the radiologist looking for cancer on a mammogram," I swivel around in my chair to see if Belinda is listening to me.

She isn't.

I will never get her to the gym now.

We are at our respective computers reading the same news item regarding a porno-programmed Play Mate human-hybrid: part skin and bones, part plastic and wax, part adipose tissue, part botulism – spreading the unattractive contents of her cadaver brain for all to witness. No one wants to see that, Dani Mathers. No one. You've confused body parts. Stick with what you know. You hit below the belt with a body shame and I'll throw my hat in with a slut shame. It's a give and take, rolling with the punches. We're living in a ring.

Belinda is also confused, rendering her momentarily speechless, which isn't unusual when a girl's illusions are shattered or worst fears realized. Although she once rated and compared herselef in a depressingly negative light with all the magazine-beautiful girls as much as anyone else born into a world that wrapped you in pink and stuck a bow on your head like a foregone conclusion, Belinda has learned to suppress and detach from such critical thoughts about both herself and others.

She adopts the stance of a hopeless believer in the innate goodness of humankind, despite extraordinary evidence to the contrary, and gives everyone the benefit of the doubt. She, for example, does not want to judge another woman's choice, whether saline or silicone, if that's what it takes to prevent a body dysmorphic sufferer from killing herself. All of us, i.e. the physically imperfect, have to find ways to cope under the magnifying glass of the "male gaze" and the scrutiny of female insecurity. To each her own. Diversity. Do not judge.

It's a generous worldview, but not exactly a realistic one which I sometimes feel the need to point out. It, however, takes a great deal of effort on my part to break through Belinda's carefully constructed denial. She never at first believes malicious gossip is true or that a monstrous pair of tits is fake. It just seems so dishonest to her and therefore defies her carefully constructed belief system. Besides, there have always been well-endowed women, she argues.

She herself had a breast reduction and cannot for the life of her imagine why anyone, barring a psychiatric problem, would intentionally have her normally proportioned breasts inflated to a back-breaking, logic-defying tourist attraction from which no one can look away. I tell her I think that's the point.


Initially upon reading how Dani Mathers publicly body-shamed and violated some unsuspecting woman at the gym, it seems counter-intuitive that a surgically-augmented ditz skilled in the selfie and other mentally taxing activities such as removing her clothes, who makes a living off the easily exploitable rape fantasies of delusional men, would reveal the flabby, unexercised parts of herself to a viral audience. A neglected mind is an ugly thing.

But then I suppose the aesthetically unappealing human brain with its capacity for higher cognitive functioning is a pointless vestigial organ to a person whose conditioning has her convinced she actually wants to transform herself into an intellectually-stunted sex object who speaks in vacuous Playboy sound bites meant to milk the oozing bodily fluids of a multitude of spasmodic men with back hair and a wallet  all the Zika-carrying semen, blood-tinged chlamydia mucus,  gonorrhea pus, saliva, nose snot, masturbatory sweat and laboured breathing a young businesswoman who went to the trouble of a 33 Double D could ever hope for. No matter, no penis-holding man worth his genital wart was interested in your brain or character anyway.

It turns out a person, male or female, does not necessarily have to be wise to make big money. If reality TV, the cult of celebrity and the financial crisis of 2008 have taught us anything, it's that.  You only have to be an unscrupulous asshole with ambition, an opportunity, and a willingness to prostitute your dignity for a price. If you're female that indignity includes having your chest stuffed like an overfed, hormone-injected factory chicken kept in a tiny, cramped cage and raised purely for slaughter and later mastication, with a preference for genetically mutated breast meat.


Now, I'm not sure if you can call the smug malice of an adult woman in a pair of infantile bunny ears, who conforms to an objectified ideal that fuels sexual assault and reinforces internalized misogyny while simultaneously proclaiming she's a "rebel" news exactly, so much as confirmation of what Belinda, in spite of her rose-colored glasses, already suspected and what I already knew.

Apparently, like many if not all women socialized through the ages in a sexist world obsessed with the physical appearance and sexual viability of every female born, Belinda's "spectacles"  do come off, regardless of her aforementioned wall of denial, and despite confidence in every other sphere of existence, when her own body image is the object of consideration. It's challenging enough keeping internal criticism at bay, even with a wall, without adding the external pressure of a gym full of what Belinda suspects are impossibly gorgeous and therefore cruel people looking down their perfectly symmetrical noses at her. 

As for me, I was not in denial that people like Mathers existed in the world, particularly in a gym, but was trying to keep this knowledge from Belinda in the hopes of one day convincing her to go to a spin class with me. The class, though, is held in a gym, which Belinda sees as a meat market she vows to never set foot in, whatever I plead. She does not have any desire to feel like a piece of meat, thank you very much, especially a piece of meat that might be judged unworthy of consumption.


"Don't be ridiculous," I lie to her, "no one is looking at anyone. You go for health reasons, that's all. No one cares what you look like, they're too busy working out. Besides, every body type, shape and size is at the gym. Everyone is made to feel welcome".

Belinda eyes me doubtfully. "Aren't there mirrors everywhere? I don't want to be looking at myself, never mind have anyone else look at me!"

I again tell her she's being ridiculous; she's beautiful and has nothing to worry about. But the truth is that there are indeed mirrors everywhere and it is indeed traumatizing for a girl with body image issues, whether real or perceived. I would rather not go there myself, but it's the only place that offers spin classes, the one indoor workout I enjoy that doesn't require skilled coordination, much interaction with others and isn't boring. Even so, I'd prefer if someone went with me to share in the burden of humiliation.

I hate drawing attention to myself as it is without going to a gym. As it happens, most of the time I attend one of these spin classes, I do draw attention to myself by being late. 

My tardiness is disruptive and causes everyone to stare with disapproval. To make matters worse, there's usually something wrong with the bike I'm left with, such as a squeaky wheel or a seat that won't adjust, and this too is disruptive as the music is turned down and everyone looks around to see who has the squeaky wheel this time. It's me. It's always me. Why even question it?

I've also been known to fall off the bike in the process of getting on or off it, and it isn't uncommon for me to whack my head on the handlebars or drop my water bottle and splash water everywhere. 

Once, the pedal broke right off just as I was standing up, causing injury, excruciating pain and more disruption. Another time, I did the entire class with my t-shirt on inside out, and I'm pretty sure the trio of fit, young women, who frequent the same class without breaking a sweat, all of them appropriately tattooed like cattle with an owner and g-stringed like strippers with a UTI, think I am mentally challenged. 

They, for instance, will turn during one of my signature disruptions and with the furrowed brow of pseudo-sympathy marring their otherwise lovely features, watch as I fumble around or get my foot stuck in the pedal strap.

On occasion, the most evolved of the three will be so moved by the pitiful sight of me that she will rush to my aid. Her charitable act of the day. She might, for example, notice me struggling with the lever to adjust my seat and take it upon herself to save me from further embarrassment. 

She'll ask if I need help in the carefully enunciated words one uses when attempting to communicate with the hard-of-hearing or the cognitively impaired. Then without waiting for my answer, which would be a resounding no, please stop noticing me, she takes over. 

I awkwardly stand there feeling like an idiot until she successfully works the lever and the seat is adjusted. It's not adjusted to the height I want, but now I feel like I'll hurt her feelings if I redo what she just did. She seems so pleased with herself for helping me, the invalid. So whatever, let's just get this hell over with. I don't like hurting people's feelings if I can help it. If you're an asshole, that's a different story. 

Superficial women consumed not only with their own appearances, but with deriding the appearance of those society deems cosmetically "less fortunate" or somehow morally bankrupt in the case of weight gain, aren't necessarily thoughtless assholes like Dani Mathers; they are products of a culture that commodifies the female body and socializes girls to be predominantly outward-focused at the expense of developing other more meaningful aspects of personhood, such as empathy, inner strength and enlightenment.

Until you have some awareness of the cultural, religious and other forces that shape your thinking, it's difficult to undergo the kind of paradigm shift that would prevent you in the first place from snapping an unsolicited picture of a naked woman in the shower and then sharing it on social media for widespread ridicule, possibly jeopardizing said woman's safety and sense of self-worth.

I don't know if the mass of public outrage, job loss and possible criminal charges Mathers faces for what she did is enough to shift her thinking and behavior, but it's doubtful that a pornographic model who boasts of being a "sexual deviant" as if it's a noteworthy accomplishment is going to be shifting anything but some paying man's scrotum.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Her Battered Mind

Somewhere in the dark recesses of her battered mind,
Was a lost fleck of ego she thought she'd never find.
She gave up the search and her outlook grew bleak;
The storm in her head reached a dangerous peak.

She walked around buried alive from within,
Choking on air, nails clawing under skin.
She bore the torture but wanted it to cease,
She craved some sort of eternal release.

A corpse inside a living body she would soon be,
If she didn't put a permanent end to her misery.
But before she could take matters into her own hands,
She heard a voice giving outrageous commands.

It told her to change her thinking and give it a rest,
But with gun in hand, she cried she couldn't endure one more test.
But its calm persistence made her ask why in a tone quiet and flat,
And it replied because she was worth it, as simple as that.

She can't say how or whence the voice came,
Whether ego, delusion, or God, it's all just the same.
But she knows to this day when her mood darkens the light,
There's a bright spark in her waiting and willing to fight.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Leftover Brussels: Lesser Cousins of a Better Creed

The leftovers waited patiently,
In the fridge for their turn.
They did not harbor resentment,
Nor was their banishment of concern.

Except for the sprouts,
Consumed with worry and doubt.
They knew they emitted a terrible stench,
Like rotten eggs and old sauerkraut.

Yams consoled Brussels with sage advice:
Sure, they were the lesser cousins of a better creed,
But rest assured, ALL the leftovers would be
Sought after by gluttony and greed.

The vegetables and their sauces,
Gravy and sausage dressing too,
Congealed under plastic wrap,
Between the mayo jar and last week's stew.

Cranberries, potatoes and turkey
Cooled in the old Frigidaire.
The whipping cream and pumpkin pie
Sat idly by without a care.

But as the leftovers leisurely gossiped
In the crisp Freon atmosphere,
Brussels foresaw a hopeless destiny:
"We're never getting out of here!"

The sprouts had been overcooked,
And gave off a rancid smell.
They would be the only leftover
The gluttons would repel.

The other leftovers humored Brussels,
While furtively rolling their esculent eyes.
Then just as predicted they heard muffled voices,
"You get the turkey, I'll get the pies!"

They could hear clanging glass,
And the fridge door creaking.
With a flood of light the gluttons had arrived,
Whispering and sneaking.

Leftovers were piled onto plates,
And promptly microwaved…
Except for the Brussels sprouts,
Left in the fridge to rot as they ranted and raved.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Love struck Fool

The love struck fool stumbles and falls –
Tasty game for the One who enthralls.
Easy prey for the necrotic heart,
Of a predatory feline acting a part.

He's a squirrel lured to nest on the open sea,
Love is a sleek fin that encircles hungrily.
But he wasn't made to endure the ocean's roar,
As it ripples and heaves against the ragged shore.

He's lulled by the gentle pull of the tides,
Flesh prickles with wanting as Love collides.
He swoons at the glint of a sharp tooth,
Love continues her courtship lithe and couth.

He yields his mind to appease a primal urge;
Love swiftly closes in with rapturous surge.
She lunges to enrapture her helpless feed –
A fool consumed by his own love sick need.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Existential Crisis at 7-Eleven

It feels like I am faced with rude, not particularly observant, condescending zombie-people in all aspects of my trivial existence. No doubt some of this feeling can be attributed to my own hang-ups, but my insecurities do not account for EVERYTHING.

For example, I was recently asked to get a pack of matches from the local 7-Eleven.

I agreed to get these matches even though I am opposed to the reason these matches were needed in the first place, but whatever. I have my own vices to direct my judgment towards. I will try not to be a hypocrite.

On the other hand, hypocrisy is sometimes a necessary evil, like little white lies or the mildly despicable  things one resorts to when the circumstances of her life force her to live in survival mode. Live or die is also a choice.


“Don't call me crazy.I'm a survivor. I do what I have to do to survive.” 

― The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Besides, the particular vice in question, smoking, is one I myself was able to overcome cold turkey over a decade ago through mindfulness (before it was a trendy catch phrase) and will power (probably a bit of divine intervention thrown in there too, but who knows).

It is therefore a challenge for my brain to be empathetic to the 12-step addiction dogma that says you are powerless – it’s a challenge because I know it’s not true. To be clear, this is not to suggest there is no such thing as transcendence or something bigger than us; only that it is false to believe we are utterly powerless. We aren't. We still have the choice to, for example, light a cigarette, put it to our lips and inhale. 

Granted, if you are addicted to cigarettes, it can be a very difficult "choice" to quit, especially with so many biological, psychological and cognitive factors involved, factors most are not aware of, which further complicates the issue. How does one fight an enemy he or she does not realize exists?

Even so, it is still amazing to me what you will believe is impossible if you let your mind be led solely by outside forces, such as pop psychology, cultural "norms" or my pet peeve, the "celebrity class" (why people would ever want to emulate these freak-show celebrities, who belong in a zoo and have the intellect of a finger-puppet is beyond me). Grant those outside sources your consideration, by all means. Contemplate them, think critically, but if they don’t align with your intuition and sense of humanity, REJECT them. For the love of GOD.

You can quit an addiction whether to a substance or behavior and you can manage your emotions, thoughts and beliefs without pharmaceutical drugs or “therapeutic” brainwashing. But obviously you have to want to and be willing to endure a little suffering, knowing “this too will pass”, in order to achieve inner mastery. Not easy but still possible.

Try and convey this message to the average conditioned drone around here, though, and you’re met with a blank stare.  Still, I do understand why this is – the crutches of addiction, carnal indulgence, egocentrism and faulty belief often provide a far better quality of delusion or I mean life than facing the panic of this bizarre reality stone cold sober.




If you do attempt to go it alone without all the worldly baggage and chemical smokescreens, you risk having an existential crisis, and possibly losing your mind trying to make sense of the absurdity – the big fucking mystery of it all.

So forget it. I’ll get your stupid matches for you – enjoy your denial-encapsulated black lung. Me? I’ll take my chances with the existential crisis, perhaps with the occasional crutch because I too am mortal like everyone else, prone to injury, disease and hypocrisy, and in need of assistance from time to time, but ultimately I’ll come to my own conclusions about the nature of my reality.

Thus, with the above dissonance resonating in my head, I asked the cashier behind the counter at 7-Eleven for fuel and some matches.

“Do you want a book of matches?” she drawled, utterly uninterested in the human being (me) standing in front of her.

“Um…whatever you have is fine,” I answered, a little unsure of myself, “how much is a book of matches?”

She handed me an unopened box of 50 packs of matches and said, “Five cents”.

I took the box from her in that slow, hesitant way one does when confused that she has misunderstood something, but also simultaneously suspects it is the OTHER person who has it wrong.

“Do you want ME to open the box?” I asked, double-checking that I wasn’t indeed the one labouring under a misapprehension.

Now for the first time since this unpleasant interaction began, the woman looked directly at me and rolled her eyes, “Ahh, nooooo…you can open it yourself.”

She made a kind of snorting sound like I was the idiot and not her.

“So it’s five cents for this WHOLE box of matches?” I checked again.

The middle-aged woman sighed heavily, like a frazzled single mother of twelve with few options left, forced to work at a convenience store for minimum wage and snapped, “That’s what I said isn’t it? Duh.”

Well, isn’t SHE a bundle of hostile joy. But life has clearly dealt her a shitty hand, so I’ll try to remain calm. It’s okay, World, you can continue to use me as a fucking punching bag. The lifetime beating has hardened me, I can handle it.

“Yeah, okay, just checking,” I answered, feeling inexplicably chastised (okay, maybe I can’t handle it) by this dopey woman who evidently did not know the difference between an individual “book” of matches and an entire box of them.

That’s when the customer behind me, who had been listening to everything, eagerly chimed in, “I’ll get a couple ‘books’ of those matches, too!”

In the end, four of us left there with multiple unopened boxes of matches for 5 cents.

Normally I would still be suffering with guilt over “benefitting” from this woman’s ignorance, even with the way she treated me, but the matches weren’t for me. I did not benefit in any way and thus am exonerated of all guilt. 

Okay, I still do feel guilty.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Human Pincushion

Through a series of unfortunate accidents I dropped a box of pins and needles in a dimly lit area of my carpeted living room. Lizzy witnessed the whole thing and without moving to help me pick any of the pins up, knowingly said, “Dad’s going to step on one of those pins”.

“No”, I corrected as I desperately crawled around on my hands and knees, “we’re going to pick them all up. No one is going to step on a pin! Now please help me!”

I think she reluctantly picked up ONE pin, but upon doing so, shrieked in pain as if she had been stabbed with a harpoon and gave up.  She told me she was just a kid and it was dangerous for kids to pick up pins. Besides, she pointed out, she wasn’t the one who dropped them.

Insolent child.

Still, even without her assistance I thought I had gathered up all the pins.

I was wrong…as tends to happen.

Sure enough, a few days after I drop the pins, I get a frantic, angry phone call from John. He is in agony. He has stepped on a needle and it’s inserted so far into his foot that only the eye of the needle is poking out.

I can hear Lizzy, the little traitor, in the background saying, “I told mom this would happen.”

I don’t know why I’m the first person John calls in such situations. First remove the needle and if you need medical assistance, go to an Emergency Room. Do not call me. I cannot help you.

But of course he is not phoning for help or advice. He, with his little sidekick, Lizzy, is phoning to place blame.

In a barely controlled voice he asks me if I know why he stepped on a pin.

“Because you don’t look where you’re going?” I answer helpfully.

“NO!” he screams abandoning all pretence of self-control. “YOU dropped pins on the carpet and didn’t pick them up!”

My cell vibrates at the intensity of his rage.

“Where are you getting your information?” I ask, as if I don’t know.

“LIZZY told me!!!”

“Lizzy is 6,” I say, “who are you going to believe, a 6 year old or a grown adult?”

John cannot believe my lack of contrition and yells, “The 6-year-old!”

“Does it really matter why at this point?” I ask. “Don’t you think you should remove the foreign object from your foot before worrying about who is responsible? Also, you have to be responsible for your own feet. Surely, you can’t blame me for where YOU decide to tread!”

In frustration he hangs up.

A few days later he has stepped on another one of these pins and I receive another one of his phone calls.

It occurs three more times in the proceeding weeks. Each time I am not home and each time he phones me on my cell to freak out and demand that something be done. Short of ripping up the carpet, I don’t know what more can be done.

He doesn’t know either, but he does know that with every pin that punctures his foot, his resentment for me builds, as does his fear of entering the living room. His god, the TV, is in there, though, so I’m not too worried about it. It isn’t like he can avoid his place of worship.

A few weeks of this and he tells me he can’t take it anymore. He does not think he can survive another pinning. And even though I have not admitted (and never will) to any culpability in the matter, he is still suspicious that the scatterbrained clumsiness I am notorious for is responsible for the pins. Because of this, he thinks it’s only fair I offer up some sort of restitution. Failing that, it would give him great satisfaction to see ME step on one of these pins and collapse to the ground writhing in pain, develop an infection and possibly die.

I tell him that is a terrible thing to wish on anyone, especially his wife. And as punishment, he's left me with no choice but to put The Curse of the Pin on him.

“You already DID!!!” he sputters.

I suggest to him that if it was me who kept stepping on pins I’d start wearing slippers. I would also avoid the area where I suspected the pins were strewn.

For some weird reason, even though it fills him with dread, he cannot keep himself away from the vicinity of the pin carnage. This perverse fascination is in fact why he keeps stepping on the pins in the first place. Look and ye shall find.

Eventually he does listen to me and takes to wearing slippers. He also makes an effort to stay away from the area in question, but he simply can’t do it. Nevertheless for another week he is fine. No more pinnings. It seems he has managed to retrieve all the wayward pins with his foot.

“See?” I brighten, “something positive has come out of this. Now the kids won’t step on a pin because you’ve retrieved them all with your foot! You’re a good dad!”

My words of praise do nothing to dissolve his simmering rage, which he’s been trying to control since I put the Curse of the Pin on him. Although he openly scoffs at such things, he isn’t fooling me -- not with his “controlled” rage or his disbelief in my abilities. Secretly, he isn’t so sure my curses aren’t real. 

And sure enough, a few mornings later he wakes up with a stabbing ache in his back. This is nothing new, mind you, and as a rule I more or less ignore his physical complaints. He worries and complains about back pain incessantly because when he was 19 he got into a bad car accident and fractured his spine. His doctors at the time warned that as he got older he may start to experience chronic lumbar pain and other associated symptoms.

As a result, John is constantly on high alert to ANY discomfort in his back no matter how minor or imagined. This time, however, he says it is “different” and excruciating enough that he can’t go to work.

For the rest of the day he lay on the couch moaning about how he needs to go to the doctor and get some painkillers, but he never makes a move to actually do this.

It is not until later in the night at maybe 9 or 10 o’clock that I get another one of John’s by now customary phone calls while I’m at work. From his pressured tone and rapid breathing I know immediately this has something to do with pins.

I am correct.

It seems John had reached around to scratch where his back hurt and in doing so pricked his finger on something sharp. There was blood. He nearly fainted when he realized what it was.

It was the tip of a pin.

You have no idea how disappointed I am that he never went to see that doctor about his “ailment”.


Every time I think of this whole pin situation I am thrown into a new fit of hysterics. As a consequence, John has stopped speaking to me.  He is beside himself with  anger that I’m not taking it more seriously. He says with utter conviction that if he hadn’t felt the pin when he did, he probably would be dead right now.

Ignoring the fact he had wished figurative death on me only a few days ago, I laugh and say, “Don’t be absurd. You can’t die from being stabbed in the back with a pin. A knife, sure, but a pin? I don’t think so, there Pincushion”.

I’ve now taken to calling him Pincushion.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Doctor at my Window

I stand at the window and watch three overly confident male physicians strutting below. They walk like the Sultan of Brunei, ridiculous, repulsive little men with big egos and an infinite capacity for self-gratification and entitlement. 

Their confidence is derived from a boys club of debauchery, deception, exclusive opportunity, inherited privilege, an engorged sense of superiority, astounding hypocrisy and the celebrity-like worship of a misguided, misinformed populace, not to mention a seemingly endless supply of female insecurity that fuels their rutting preoccupations. Swine.

The differences between the paltry Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and the semen-driven doctors are ones of mere degree. The Sultan is at the extreme end of wealth, indulgence, self-glorification, human exploitation, greed, lechery, indifferent cruelty, contrived intelligence and spiritual emptiness. He is purely a temporal animal who will return to dust and disappear into nothingness once he dies, which hopefully is as pleasant an affair as the deaths of those who no doubt will be lost to torture, stoning, complications of punitive amputations and brutal floggings under his rule after he helpfully introduced Sharia law to Brunei, laws which he and his equally repugnant, pedo-looking, herpetic brother are themselves guilty of breaking on a regular basis. Sadistic pigs.

As for the doctors, perhaps "sadistic pig" is a bit harsh, but "rutting swine" seems accurate enough. All three of the doctors I am currently surveying from my window are married, but none are particularly discreet about their frequent romps with infidelity or in any way ashamed of the lives their more or less open cheating has negatively impacted. 


If you're going to indiscriminately fornicate with as many women as you possibly can, like a lowly animal that gorges itself to death, at least don't be married with a quiver of kids when you do it. Don't do it when you've taken marriage vows, and don't do it when you've taken a Hippocratic oath not to abuse your position of trust and authority, preying on the vulnerable with your perversions. And if you can't manage any of that, at least be upfront with the young ladies you're using as receptacles for your seminal trash, so they know exactly what they are getting into and don't harbor any illusions of happily-ever-after with you.






In addition to devastated families, all this pathological infidelity and casually tossed aside, single-use female bodies has been responsible for at least two suicide attempts, as well as countless psychological problems and the occasional jealousy-induced criminal act. Although, I guess if you were the kind of man who stopped to consider how your actions might devastate another person's life you would not be indiscriminately fucking a bunch of people like an insentient Energizer Dildo on permanent recharge in the first place.

"It's amazing how these guys get away with what they get away with in this town, " I turn to Belinda, thoroughly disgusted at the mere sight of these men everyone else is so smitten with (other than of course the people whose lives they'e ruined, but even they seem remarkably forgiving).

Belinda happens to be one of the smitten ones, which I suppose is part of the reason I like to comment on them, just to needle her. It injects some adrenaline into an otherwise paperclip and blunt pencil kind of a day, where only casual business attire is allowed, not like a blue jeans Friday. 

It's the kind of day where the biggest catastrophe is that Lenore used water straight from the tap to fill the Keurig yet again, even though she's been told repeatedly to use the purified water from the cooler. This infuriates Belinda: "So help me, if that cute water-boy stops coming in here because of damn Lenore making management think we don't need weekly water deliveries anymore, I'll KILL HER MYSELF!"

Basically my contempt for a philandering penis with an equally ineffectual medical degree is distracting Belinda and saving Lenore's life. You're welcome Lenore. 

"Look at them preening like ugly peacocks who have no idea how hideous they are," I continue with as much disdain as I can possibly muster, "I hope one of these incessantly squawking crows dive-bombs the one in the middle, your friend, Dr. Suna". 

I don't look at Belinda but I sense I'm getting under her skin. This particular "lady doctor" is one of her favorites. They have a good, flirty working relationship that makes me want to stab my hand with one of the plastic forks I keep on my desk any time I'm in the same room as one of their giggly interactions. 

Belinda takes a deep, steadying inspiration before addressing me.

"That's because you're a man hater. I find him amusing. He's funny and smart and knows his stuff. He goes out of his way to answer questions and makes his patients feel at ease. Who cares what he does in his personal life."

This is a refrain I've heard many times and I don't agree with any of it, which Belinda knows. I, however, decide to ignore the "what a person does in his personal life has no bearing on his professional life" non-sequitur. And I'm more or less desensitized to the bogus "man-hater" label, so I should ignore that, too. It's a bullshit label anyway, but as I've gotten older and wiser, I've taken the stance that if it keeps assholes away from me then I will no longer look this gift horse in the mouth. Serendipity.

In truth, the only thing I really hate is redundant, scripted speech that everyone mindlessly delivers like dumb-struck lines in a poorly rehearsed, ill-conceived episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. It's only more absurdity and contrived reality, but without the Frankenstein-esque plastic enhancements and over-compensated playhouses that gobble up an unfair share of space and resources. 

The Lamar Odom sleazebags in this contrived reality are named Bill, Bob or Joe, use crystal meth cut with rat poison, a.k.a. the poor man's coke, and get their illicit sex not from fancy legal brothels in Nevada, but from strung-out single mothers with deadened souls, who have lost their kids and fill the void with IV drug use and degrading sex acts at $10 a pop, performed in darkened back alleys or bed-bug infested motels that rent by the minute

With these bitter ruminations running through my mind, I correct Belinda, saying, "I'm not a man-hater, Belinda, only a hater of despicable behavior. It's not my fault most of that despicable behavior happens to come from men. Don't blame the observer."

Belinda gives me her signature look, which says she doesn't believe or agree with a word I'm saying.

But this is how we do things so I solider on: "Also, why does Suna always have to come in here bragging about what a great life he's having with dramatic tales of his travels and conquests? Shut up. I'm already not enjoying my life over here, I don't need some pretentious douche-bag rubbing it in with one of his drive-by self-aggrandizing stories."

Then, as if by cosmic cue, Dr. Suna comes slithering into the room like the snake he is. Belinda glances at me in alarm, worried he might have heard us talking, not that she would have anything to worry about. I'm the ONLY one voicing discontent with the status quo.

Besides, he doesn't know he's Dr. Suna. Granted, my pet name for him is not very original, but it makes me laugh almost every time I use it. Sultan H-Ass-Anal, Lamar O-Dumb and Dr. Suna aren't the only ones who need their cheap thrills. My form of cheap thrill, however, doesn't cost anything and will not spread disease or further unravel the moral and intellectual fabric of civilized society.  And anyway, the name Suna is fitting. He is a backwards, lax sphincter and portal for fecal matter.

In any event, he must sense I don't care for his stench and bypasses me completely as if I don't exist, going straight for Belinda. He is all ingratiating smiles, with a "favor" to ask, but first he wants to show off pictures from his latest trip: kite-boarding with his Stepford wife, Mrs. Doctor Suna, in Venezuela. You see? I am an equal opportunity "hater". I dislike shitty men AND their consenting victims. 

Unfortunately (for Belinda, who as it turns out is a non-consenting victim), the first picture that appears is a close-up of a Pap smear in progress. Dr. Suna laughs off the mistake and jokes, "Oops, gyne-porn". He then continues to swipe through the pics as if it's no big deal that he's just traumatized Belinda's eyes for the rest of her life, or that he's violated some unnamed woman's right to privacy. 

He keeps swiping until he comes to the images of his wife risking her life surfing rough tropical waters, apparently for his viewing pleasure. As Belinda struggles to restore her composure after being eye-raped with that unexpected visual, she stammers, "That looks dangerous!"

Dr. Suna jokes again that this latest wife might be quiet but she's a daredevil; willing to try anything, that one. "She'd surprise you", he says with a salacious grin. Anyway, if she did die in some freak kiting accident, not a problem, he goes on. He likes to "trade in for a new one every 7 or 8 years" anyhow, so bonus! Saves him messy divorce proceedings. Suna appears quite pleased with how funny he thinks he's being, oblivious to how uncomfortable he is making Belinda, who laughs politely but who I can see is mildly horrified by this entire situation. 

I imagine she is reconsidering right about now that I may not be off the mark regarding Dr. Suna after all. Pustule.

As for me, in addition to being happy Suna himself continues to prove my low opinion of him is correct, I'm also happy my unfriendly "hater" persona pays off once again. Of the two of us, Belinda is the only one with the closeup of some stranger's prolapsed cervix forever burned in her mind. Not a pleasant thing to be carrying around in your head. My own conscience is clear.

Dr. Suna mercifully finishes up his slide show, asks for the favor he could have done himself, and  turns to leave when Lenore's best friend, Henrietta, comes bustling in.

She blocks the doorway so Suna can't easily leave and asks him if he is interested in sponsoring her for the women's shelter fundraiser she is helping organize. She understandably assumes he is a perfect fit for such a fundraiser since women's issues are his speciality, not to mention the thing that has provided him with wealth, prestige and privilege. Even more to the point, it's the thing that's given him a sultan-like status in this community, reminiscent of his anal-twin-flame there, Sultan H-Ass-Anal Bolkiah, and a free pass to fuck around without consequence as much as his Viagra-controlled erection allows. As such, you'd think he'd want to give back somehow.

You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. I man like this does not humble himself. It has to be done for him, either through divine intervention or by another more advanced animal on a stronger branch of the evolutionary tree. Now, if Henrietta, Belinda and everyone else around here looked beyond superficial nonsense, they would know this intuitively and NOT AT ALL assume Suna, being the piece of shit doctor that he is, would humble himself. 

Sure enough, much to my smug satisfaction, he answers Henrietta with, "Women's shelter? What about men? Is there a shelter for men who get beat up by women?"

He makes this asshole statement in the context of a recent murder/suicide of a domestically abused mother at the end of her rope, who had just left her violent husband with their severely autistic son in tow, no support, no money, no job, and nowhere to go other than a shelter she couldn't get into because it was full. This woman may have even been his patient.

In light of the above, Henrietta is shocked into silence at Suna's response, an unusual situation for her, normally a total blabbermouth. 

With Henrietta's uncharacteristic silence, Suna realizes he might have taken what he later explains is another one of his hilarious "jokes" too far. He shrugs and throws a crumpled $20 bill at Henrietta, which as far as I'm concerned is no more charitable than had he flung a nail clipping at her head. His 20 bucks is that inconsequential to him. If anything, when this asshole "gives" any amount of money away he's doing something for HIMSELF, not any one else, certainly not any one in need. It causes him NO hardship whatsoever.

Suna trounces off without a care after this, shoving past Henrietta, who looks a little lost now. After he's gone, she sheepishly admits she had expected him to give her at least $100, was counting on it.

In renewed disgust, I dig through my Old Mother Hubbard purse, and to my surprise manage to scrape together $36.85 to give to Henrietta. At the same time, Belinda digs through her slightly fiscally healthier purse and between us, and with Suna's pathetic $20, Henrietta leaves with more than the $100 she had come for. 

I look at Belinda expectantly.

"Okay, okay," she says in partial surrender, "you win. He's an anus...but I still like him".

Without another word I return to my desk, to the fork, and stab myself. The fork bends against the back of my hand and a couple of the tines fling off, hitting me painlessly in the face before falling dramatically to the floor.

Unmoved, Belinda watches my sorry display of political protest and dryly asks, "Feel better?"

I don't look at her as I reach down to pick up the broken-off fork bits and say, "I think I've made my point."

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Deafening Silence

There were 12 children in total, some step-siblings, some half and some full — all mashed together like misfit puzzle pieces forced into a distorted family portrait.

Papa Phil did not father all twelve, but they all had at some point been under his care. The women who gave birth to these children, two of whom were once Papa Phil's wives, had all been lost to one of booze, madness or death.

Papa Phil knew he could not raise a pile of motherless kids by himself, so he took yet another wife, Muriel, when the youngest of the dozen was still in diapers. Muriel herself could not get pregnant, but desperately yearned for a baby and was thus immediately smitten with the youngest of the children.

The older kids, none of them Papa Phil's biological offspring, were more or less ignored by Muriel and terrorized by Phil. But it was a silent terror. Silence like this is loud and oppressive — it defies logic and the laws of nature. The unsaid things are the scariest things — the things no one wants to acknowledge.

The silence was therefore free to slip in between the ketchup sandwiches made with stale bread, through the soiled sheets, and around the creaking floorboards late at night when children should be soundly sleeping. They should not be wide awake concentrating with every cell of their being on some bedroom wall shadow until the silent thing is done.

Silence becomes an odd comfort when it accompanies everything one does. It is like a prison guard the prisoner comes to rely on, even after the bars have been left unlocked and the guard eliminated.

Maryanne, a middle-aged adult now, resented the guarded silence. Her siblings, by comparison, went on seemingly unscathed with a regimented existence. Maryanne could not understand their refusal to talk about what had happened to them because it consumed her. She could barely handle it, the thought of Papa Phil having gotten away with his crimes, aided and abetted by muteness. 

There did, however, come a day when she could no longer tolerate the dead air and spoke up. The power of confession, what really should have only been the therapeutic passing of an honest moment, created a dystopia Maryanne could not have anticipated. Who would have thought that with the mere utterance of a few words that so much human misery would scream forth from the silence like a million unleashed demons.

There would be suicide, addiction and homicidal rage. There would be financial ruin, prison, insanity, agony and death. All their carefully patched together lies, their precariously assembled lives, decimated by truth.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mormons are in the Building

Belinda calls me over to the window. She looks concerned as she watches a Mormon twosome approaching the building. They always march in pairs.

"Why would the Mormons be here?" she says in a near whisper.

She sounds scared.

"Well, there are numerous reasons why they could be here, Belinda. It's not like there's a law forbidding them from entering the building." I laugh. "Why? Do you think they're coming for you?"

It turns out the thought has crossed her mind. 

They seem to seek her out where ever she goes, especially at her home where they come knocking on a regular basis, which is partly her own fault. If you feed a stray it will invariably come back. Sometimes, if you don't set up firm boundaries from the outset, the stray will go further and muscle his way right into your house. Make himself at home. 

But make no mistake. 

He is not interested in having you domesticate him. He is using you and will come and go as he pleases. But you're an innocent and will think with self-satisfaction that he's grown to love and respect you. He has not. He mocks you when you aren't looking. 

The Mormons kind of work like that, although I imagine they are for the most part unaware that they are mocking anyone. They believe they are the righteous ones and that it is the rest of us who are confused, not them. Also, they have a manual of strategy and are prepared with circular reasoning to confound you even more.

If you're not careful, eventually, if the Mormons are successful with their door-to-door, boots on the ground strategies, planting seeds of cognitive dissonance and confusion, they will lead you right from your home into theirs, which is more of a lair than a "home". You won't know what hit you and they will have a new brick for their wall. 

I don't know how effective their approach is, and I would be interested to know their success rate, but you see Mormon and not to mention Jehovah Witness pairs everywhere so they must be catching at least some of their prey. But they are nice enough people, so if you are going to be drawn into a cult-like scenario anyway, you could do worse.

Belinda, however, is too much of a contrarian to ever be lured into a cult or be persuaded by fundamentalism of any kind. She will never be one of their caught prey, but it doesn't stop them from trying. They mistake her natural curiosity, compassion and willingness to listen and engage with them for weakness they can exploit. But Belinda is no saint and as it turns out she's the one exploiting them, even though exploitation was never her intention and she feels bad about it. 

After Belinda's initial introduction to the Mormons, which amounted to several hours-long conversations standing in her doorway, she wanted them to leave her alone. She had no plan to use them for her own means. She isn't that kind of a girl. Belinda is a giver by nature, a leaver, not a taker and definitely not a receiver. 

Basically, the Mormons charitable ways are changing Belinda, corrupting her.

And it wasn't that she didn't enjoy those early marathon conversations with them, helped by the fact they were mostly young, attractive, affable males in handsome suits who darkened her doorway. But it was getting to be too much. There are some repetitions in life that are pleasurable every time you experience them like laughing at a Seinfeld repeat, but the same conversation with a self-assured religious weirdo intent on converting you is not one of life's pleasures -- at least not as far as Belinda is concerned. 

Personally, I enjoy the weirdos. 

But you have to have boundaries. Even Patience has a right to die, especially after a long life of self-control. She gets tired. Give her a break. 

In other words, if you are going to have weirdos, especially religious ones, in your life, be kind, be amused, be willing to accept they might have some insight to share, but do not be a doormat. Or as I like to call a female trapped in the role of lipsticked-android, one programmed to obey and conditioned to accept abuse: a Dormata.

To avoid becoming a Dormata yourself, you unfortunately have to at some juncture allow your patience to run out and override your programming. You must have it within you to slam a door in someone's smug face, hang up a phone mid-sentence when you realize the superiority of the prick on the other end is beyond reason, and scream at a person whose willful stupidity has reached a level of absurdity that no longer amuses you and now pisses you off. 

And if all that fails, you're sick of taking the highroad alone, and you don't have the brain or inclination to think up some Machiavellian scheme that will ruin the person's life and have him end up in a mental institution or destitute and living in a rodent-infested hovel, shove that asshole down a flight of stairs, along with all his belongings and a few of your own you no longer want. Kill two birds with one stone that way.

You will also help out the oxymoronic men's rights movement by justifying their insipid arguments and otherwise "hilarious" jabs that, for instance, there is a critical need for transition house funding to shelter an epidemic of raped and domestically abused men. Keep them safe from all those scary women wielding a broom with one arm and doing biceps curls with the weight of a nursing baby in the other.

But don't actually kill a bird or a person and there is no epidemic problem of women raping and assaulting men. People are way too literal.

Belinda is too decent of a person, however, to even be rude to a Mormon never mind physically hurt one. Her favorite tactic when dealing with potentially awkward social interactions is avoidance, which I support. Despite the bravado above, in reality I'm more a neurotic Dormata like Belinda than a trigger happy black mamba snake, although if I'm pushed hard enough things can get ugly. There is a lot of suppressed rage swept under my doormat patiently waiting for an opportunity to express itself.

With regards to Belinda, a woman who is neither abuser nor victim, when avoidance is impossible because the Mormons, for example, see her peeking out her curtains, she reluctantly answers her door. But she likes to steer their conversations away from dogmatic themes to secular ones. Up until recently, this worked well and the Mormons would follow her lead. 

They would spend most of their early conversations discussing topics such as the weather, geography, tourist attractions, local wildlife, the state of the public school system and "children these days".

At some level Belinda knew their willingness to skirt the real reason they were talking to her was because they were first establishing a good rapport ( an essential ingredient in any relationship where one side has an agenda that doesn't include brute force) before going in for the final kill. 

So she was not necessarily surprised when they started slipping in their true agenda between commenting on the rain with interjections about "God's plan", suggestions that her "good feelings" were a direct result of the Holy Ghost working on her at that very moment, and testimony of the divine authority of one Joseph Smith. Most alarming to Belinda was their mention of the second coming, which they seemed to imply could happen at any moment. Did she have her spiritual house in order?

To help with that spiritual order, they invited her to pray with them and Belinda, feeling like a deer caught in headlights because she isn't the praying type, apologized, saying she couldn't pray right now because she had groceries in the trunk of her car that she had to bring inside. Her ice cream was melting. 

They offered to bring the groceries inside for her and that was how it started. From then on, any time the topic got a little too "religiousy" Belinda would say she had to go. They would respond by offering to do something for her, she would reconsider that she really "had" to go just yet and would relent, allowing the Mormons to do chores for her, which they did with a smile. How could she resist such cheerful, free labour? She couldn't, especially since her house was looking pretty spiffy as a direct result of their volunteer work.

Nevertheless, there came a day when she had had enough of the Mormons. Belinda had no more errands for them and she was worried if she continued to let them come around she'd end up at their church because she had no more excuses left and didn't want to hurt their feelings. She felt she was at risk of becoming an accidental Mormon.

As a consequence, the last time they asked if there was anything they could do for her, which by this time she felt guilty if she didn't come up with some chore for them, instead of drumming up business in her own house, she blurted out that her brother, Jimmy, had recently bought a house across town and needed help with renovations.

Fast forward to several hours later and Jimmy is furiously trying to get a hold of Belinda. It is an angry text, phone call and email Belinda has been expecting. She doesn't answer any of this and ever since has been in self-isolation-lock-down mode. Nothing will make her open her door now. Nothing. 

She knows she no longer has to feel guilty because the Mormons are occupied with Jimmy now -- Jimmy, who like Belinda, having been raised in the same household by the same parents, finds it hard to be mean to nice people, no matter what their cult-agenda. At least she thought the Mormons were busy with Jimmy until seeing them outside our window.

"You really thought all their time and energy was being spent on one potential convert, Belinda?" I look at her doubtfully.

"Yes, I did. His house needs tons of work." 

She seems to be hyperventilating and goes mute, her mind slammed shut by sheer panic. 

I reassure her that we are behind three password-protected, security doors. The Mormons aren't getting in without permission and there is no conceivable reason to give them permission. She is safe.

Then the phone rings. Belinda screams.

Damn Mormons.